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MIPRC Chair Invited to Testify Before U.S. House Rail Subcommittee

MIPRC Chair Illinois Rep. Elaine Nekritz testified before the U.S. House rail subcommittee of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee yesterday, stressing the accomplishments of the Midwestern states in passenger rail development and encouraging the subcommittee Members to create a strong federal/state partnership for passenger rail that other modes of transportation enjoy.

“Passenger rail is necessarily an interstate endeavor, and intercity passenger rail plays a critical role in the Midwest’s transportation network,” Rep. Nekritz said in her opening comments to the subcommittee Tuesday in Springfield, Illinois. “Our experience provides strong evidence that constituents increasingly want the option to take a train.”

The Chair (Rep. Jeff Denham, CA) and Ranking Member (Rep. Corrine Brown, FL) of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials (along with subcommittee Members from states they visit) are holding a series of field hearings across the country to hear from state and local officials as they prepare for the reauthorization of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA).

Nekritz stressed the importance of funding made available under PRIIA through the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, and also asked for authority and funding for state and regional planning. She highlighted the need for ongoing authority and funding for Amtrak, as well as for projects of national and regional significance such as the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program.

“Passenger rail is generally the best option for transporting people who are traveling between 100 and 600 miles. It is also often the best transportation mode in certain types of weather and under emergency situations. Continual and reliable capital investments are key to the success of all transportation modes, and passenger rail is no different,” she said.

The hearings this week (yesterday’s, along with one Monday that focused on CREATE) are the only ones scheduled in the Midwest.

Nekritz was invited by Chairman Denham and Ranking Member Brown to speak on behalf of MIPRC. She was joined on the panel by Illinois DOT Secretary Ann Schneider, who is Gov. Quinn’s designee to MIPRC. Robert Guy, who is Gov. Quinn’s private sector designee to MIPRC, was a panelist at Monday’s hearing on CREATE.

A copy of Rep. Nekritz’s remarks can be accessed here.

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